jim jarmusch interviews rafaël rozendaal for textfield magazine
JJ: I remember seeing you at that Jeff Koons opening in Chelsea.
RR: I ran at you with my business card…
JJ: Yeah, I think I still have it.
Glossy white with a black menorah and the word ‘thanks’ on it.
RR: Wow you remember that!
RR: Thanks so much for doing this interview, you must be a very busy man.
JJ: It’s ok, I try to stay not too busy. I try to keep a lot of blank time.
RR: Blank time?
JJ: Well, I just don’t want to be a professional at anything, so I need time to do things that don’t really have a point. That’s why I like doing things like this.
RR: Ha ha yeah there’s no point talking to me.
JJ: You know what I mean. So let’s start the interview…
Are you really into cartoons?
RR: Totally, I watch them all the time. There is something very pleasurable about watching cartoons, a really warm, comfortable feeling.
JJ: Any preferences?
RR: My taste is quite broad, but most of all I like American cartoons. Early Disney, Betty Boop, Roadrunner, Ren & Stimpy, South Park. Sometimes I’ll watch Pokemon or bad 80s cartoons.
There’s this one about a team of teenage super models that travel the globe for photo shoots
and then they also do secret missions to save the world.
JJ: That sounds good.
RR: Yeah its awesome, the animation is really cheap, a lot of times the image is frozen except for the mouths talking.
JJ: Like in South Park?
RR: Kind of, it looks more like Scooby Doo, or it wants to look like that but they didn’t succeed.
Scooby Doo is great though.
JJ: Did you watch the Scooby Doo feature film?
RR: Oh no I hate those live action versions of animated cartoons.
It ruins everything, the whole point of cartoons is to get away from photographs.
I mean it would be stupid to say that cartoons are better than photographs but its true.
JJ: Is watching cartoons a form of nostalgia for you?
RR: Nostalgia for the old days?
JJ: I mean nostalgia for your youth, remembering watching cartoons as a child.
RR: No, I wouldn’t call it nostalgia, since I never stopped watching them.
I think you can only be nostalgic for something you’ve lost.
JJ: Did you only watch cartoons?
RR: Actually there weren’t that many cartoons on Dutch tv when I was little.
Children’s tv was supposed to be educational so it was mostly horrible theater actors trying to be funny. My mother told me that I would always flip the channels for commercials, they were the most cartoony thing around.
JJ: Did you ever think of making an animated series yourself?
RR: No, not at all, I’m not interested in stories.
Stories are interesting but I don’t think my head works that way.
JJ: What do you mean?
RR: Well I remember at age 10 I dreamt of making animated cartoons as loops,
something you could just project on your wall and look at from time to time.
JJ: Like a painting?
RR: Kind of, something to stare at, something that’s always there.
I read this article that animators in the 1930s distinguished themselves by the way their character walks. Just that. That was the thing, the rest was extra, it was just about the walk. So that’s what I imagined at the time, a film projector projecting my character walking forever.
JJ: And stories don’t have a place there?
RR: Well I think there’s a story, but in a different way, maybe there’s a story when you look at all my work together. But it’s not a ‘once upon a time’ kind of thing.
JJ: How do cartoons influence you now?
RR: So many ways… there’s so much happening in cartoons, it’s a very rich source. I especially like the old cartoons, the way they’re constructed. Like Disney’s Silly Symphonies, it seems like the story happens because of the animation, not the other way around. They were playing around and if you see it now it’s all about movement, not pictures illustrating words.
I like that cartoons are now not only animated drawings, they are a way of doing something:
‘That song sounds very cartoony’, or ‘He has a cartoon face’. Like the word ‘poetic’, which usually means something different than a poem.
But most of all cartoons are comforting, that’s the real reason I need them.
JJ: How do they comfort you?
RR: I honestly don’t know.